Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Homeschool










My friend invited us to come to Ijams Nature Center with her and her kids today.  I'm glad we went.  Last time we were there it was our first day in Knoxville and it was so hot and humid.  This time the weather was perfect.  The kids had today off for inservice (I think it was really because today was voting day).

I have briefly mentioned in a previous post that we were thinking of homeschooling.  As of now, the plan is to pull the kids out of school in January.  I am even nervous typing that.  Up until now we have been so pleased with the education our children have been receiving.  We have liked the majority of their teachers and schools.  People told us not to move to Huber Heights, OH mainly because of the school ratings.  It was rated a 6.  We moved there anyway and Will went to school and we loved our little, old school.  His teacher Mrs. Eagan loved him and made his introduction to school a wonderful one.  The administration was helpful, happy, and kind.  We felt happy that we didn't buy into the whole "don't buy a house in that district" nonsense.  Then we were told the same thing about the area we chose to live in Colorado.  The "good district" was district 20.  We ignored that too and Will went to Freedom Elementary where we disliked his teacher but he had a great experience there.  They moved him to the gifted program even though they didn't typically make that available until second grade.  They had great programs for the kids (sports, science clubs, music) and I felt like he was in a good place.  Freedom was a pretty high rated school even though that district wasn't the one everyone said we ought to be in.  Isaac didn't go to Freedom.  Laila had just passed away and Isaac was starting kindergarten.  We had also just moved and Isaac has a tendency to get pretty anxious and after praying about it I just didn't feel like sending him to all day kindergarten was the right choice for him.  I felt like it would be too many changes all at once and I wanted to ease him into school.  I called all the charter schools in the city (at least it felt that way) because they were offering half day kindergarten.  Everyone was full except for one.  By a miracle he got one of the last open slots.  His teacher was the best teacher I could imagine for him.  (Eli also had Mrs. Bartges) I really liked the school and the environment and there were more LDS kids at that school as well.  I decided that after that year I'd move Will over to the charter school as well and then that would allow Eli a spot to also attend half day (I am not a fan of full day just as a side note.  Personal opinion but I'm happy my boys could all do half day).  Our experience at that school was a wonderful one for all the kids.  The teachers were great, they had wonderful friends, and the curriculum was advanced and pushed the boys to work hard.  I was really sad that we had to move and leave that school behind.

We looked for a house in a different area here in Knoxville where the schools were rated higher.  I rolled my eyes at my friend who proclaimed she would only buy a house in an area where the schools were excellent.  My experience told me that you could really have a great experience even if  your house wasn't in the "top rated district."  That isn't to say it wasn't part of our decision.  We crossed off many houses and areas because the schools near them weren't what we felt comfortable with.  But we also weighted other things as well and prayed about where we should be.  We put an offer on a house that was in one of those areas where everyone said we should live.  That fell through and we found ourselves looking in an area in East Tennessee (where everyone said we shouldn't move).  I feel confident in saying that we are in the home and ward and area that the Lord wanted us to be.  I feel like my feelings and impressions led us to this house.  The school is only rated a 6 and I was nervous about the rating but remembered our experience in Ohio and how good our experience was.  I also felt that if this was the area the Lord led us then it would work out fine.

So, that is my long introduction about our decision to homeschool.

We went to register the kids and I felt uncomfortable but we had just come from a new school and we were moving and it's hard to go from something you know and love to something you don't know.  So I figured that was why I felt the way I did.  I tried to have an open mind.  The walls had cute little murals painted on them and the office staff seemed helpful and kind.

There were things that seemed odd to me, like the people in our ward that said a lot of the kids just needed "extra love" and the fact that everyone in the school received free lunch and breakfast regardless of how much money they made.  Also, they made us sign some paper saying we weren't cotton pickers...

We went to the school and met the boy's teachers.  Both Eli and Isaac seemed to have really nice teachers.  Will's teacher seems stiff and unfriendly but I just figured we would give it time and she would warm up.  She hardly even said two words to Will when he came into the classroom.  The boys started telling me things right away once school started like, "We aren't allowed to touch the wall when we are waiting in carpool line" and "the safety patrol says we can't eat candy and then they eat candy in front of us."  One time I was in the class volunteering and the teacher made two kids pull cards for talking.  I was sitting behind them and they were talking quietly enough that I couldn't hear what they were saying.  The little girl came up to me a few minutes later and said, "I had to pull a card for talking."  Then she showed me a clump of hair in her hands and said, "My hair was stuck and I was trying to tell him to move his desk so I could get my hair out."  The teacher never asked or wanted to know anything about why they were talking.  It was just, "You are breaking the rules and so you are in trouble."  Once Will got sent to study hall because his planner wasn't signed even though he was sick the day it was supposed to be signed.  He tried explaining and his teacher said she didn't care.

His teacher also sent him to study hall for talking in the hallway at bathroom break even after three other people (the hall monitor and bathroom monitor included) all said he wasn't talking.  She said, "I have my own reasons."  She has said that they can't bring water bottles anymore because she is "sick of sending kids to the bathrooms" and just this past week has said they can't bring snacks either because she doesn't want to clean up after them.  They don't go to lunch until almost 1 and don't even get a single recess until after they have lunch.  It is a long day with few breaks and no food.  I sent Will to school with a snack anyway and told him if she has a problem she can contact me.  The kids convinced her to let them have snack still but take minutes away from their recess if they leave wrappers out.  At parent teacher conferences Will's teacher didn't even ask me to sit.  She just stood and shoved his report card in my hand and said, "You already know Will is brilliant so there isn't really anything else to discuss."

I could go on and on.  Essentially, I feel like I'm sending my kids to boot camp every day.  It is not a loving, friendly environment.  Many people have asked why I don't just go talk to the administration and that is because I have talked to numerous people that live here in Knoxville who all say that the administration is not willing to work with parents to change things.

That is just the first reason we started discussing homeschool.  The second is actually because of Isaac.  The first week of school he started coming home telling us things that kids in his class were saying.  In less than four months he has learned what Gay means, the F-word, Jack***, the S-word, and many other crude words and terms.  Because of the conversations going on we set Will and Isaac down and gave them "the sex talk" which was good since Isaac came home a week later and said, "Nick says a girl wants to have a baby with him and his friend said she has an appointment in Nick's bed at 2 PM."  It makes my ears bleed.  It's so filthy and inappropriate and I'm an adult!  Poor Isaac.  He has had to see kids make obscene gestures, listened to kids look up bad words in the dictionary, etc.  It's been pretty bad.  We told Isaac that he needed to have courage to tell his friends he couldn't participate in those types of discussions.  He was nervous.  We all prayed for him at night as a family and then asked him when his lunch was and promised him that at 11:30 both his dad and I would say a prayer for him that he would have courage and know what to say.  At 11:30 Mike and I prayed separately for Isaac and Isaac did tell his friends he couldn't be their friends if they continued to talk that way.  They told him that they would stop and did for a few days but they continue to talk filth.  We have talked to Isaac's teacher and she is aware of the problem and has reported that she has overheard Isaac on a few occasions telling his friends to stop talking that way.

I honestly just feel that every day we are sending our kids to school where they are being bombarded by influences that are not good.  I want them to be happy and love school.  I want them to have teachers that they trust and that can bring the best out of my children.  I want them to have friends that encourage them to be good.  In less than four months I have seen my kids changing.  Will isn't nearly as happy to go to school.  Isaac is hearing things that he is trying hard to keep out of his mind.  (Eli is just happy Eli with a great teacher and good little friends that are still too young to know much filth yet).  Anyway, those are the two major reasons we are going to pull our kids out.  Oh, and the fact that they are all three pretty bored and far ahead of the other kids in most areas because the charter school pushed them to be farther along in reading and Math.

I have been really nervous about this decision.  I have prayed about it and gone to the temple and while I haven't felt an overwhelming "Do this" I also do not feel comfortable with the school situation.  I feel like we need to change things and the private schools here are very expensive--too expensive for us.  So, this is the current plan.  It makes my life extra busy with our new business and my new calling as second counselor in the Relief Society Presidency.  I feel like if this is what the Lord wants from us then he will help me figure out how to balance it all.  I may be going crazy in a few months.  For now, we are checking out curriculum and making the bonus room a classroom and moving forward as though it is the right decision and if it isn't then we will scrap it and keep them in school.  It's a big change and a scary one for me.

3 comments:

blondeviolin said...

You'll do great. It probably seems scary because it's the unknown. To be honest, homeschooling has changed so much. A lot of the curriculum comes with teacher education packed in there as well.

And while you may not have a clear "do this," you do have a clear "don't do this." Sometimed it's just as good!

*hug*

Kristi, Liezl, Quincy, Ava, Cora, and Josh said...

Good for you Adrianne! I am excited for you and proud of you for accepting something that is hard, but right. You will do great. Really, if anyone can do it, you can.

Michelle said...

If anyone can do a good job at home schooling, I believe it is you. All of your reasons seem really valid for wanting to do it. I have one child that I feel would have done well with home schooling and I didn't do it. Now I wonder if I should have, too late. Glad you are acting on what you feel is right. It's hard to make a decision like this. I hope it goes awesome for you. Homeschooling has changed a lot over the years and for the better I feel. You have a lot of great, creative ideas to help them learn so I'm sure they will absolutely love it.